Lot 125
  • 125

Félix Vallotton

200,000 - 300,000 GBP
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  • Félix Vallotton
  • signed F. Vallotton. and dated 05 (lower right)

  • oil on canvas

  • 52 by 67.5cm., 20 1/2 by 26 5/8 in.


Arthur Gretner, Bulle (acquired in 1908 through Paul Vallotton, the artist's brother)
Walter & Marguerite Kottmann-Müller, Souleure
Kommerzienrat Heinrich Morgenstern, Fürth, Germany
Wolfgang Gurlitt, Berlin (acquired in August 1939; involuntary sale by Heinrich Morgenstern)
Galerie Bernier, Paris
Albert Skira, Geneva (acquired from the above)
Galerie Aktuarius, Zurich (acquired from the above before 1945)
Claude Cramer, Geneva
Galerie Vallotton, Lausanne (acquired in 1987)
Acquired from the above by the present owner


Paris, 1906, no. 20 or 21 (titled Balcon)
Zurich, Peintres français, 1957, no. 123 (titled Femme au balcon)
Lausanne, Exposition anniversaire, 1988, no. 116, illustrated in the catalogue (titled Jeune fille au balcon (Montbarry))


Francis Jourdain, Félix Vallotton. Avec une étude d'Edmond Jaloux, Geneva, 1953, illustrated pl. 35 (titled A Montbarry, le balcon)
Rudolf Koella, Das Bild der Landschaft im Schaffen von Félix Vallotton. Wesen, Bedeutung, Entwicklung (unpublished thesis), University of Zurich, 1969, p. 205
Marina Ducrey, Félix Vallotton. L'oeuvre peint: Catalogue raisonné 1878-1909, Lausanne, 2005, vol. II, no. 557, illustrated in colour p. 345  


The canvas has a resin lining. There are two areas of retouching to the upper edge, one being an area of scattered nailhead-sized spots to the centre and a 2.5 by 1cm. sq. area towards the right corner. There is a 1cm. sq. area of retouching towards the upper right corner and a further minor spot in the landscape towards the right edge. There are further minor spots of retouching in the area surrounding the figure's head and some minor specks in the lower right quadrant. All retouching is visible under UV light. Apart from some fine lines of craquelure in the sky, this work is in good condition.
"In response to your inquiry, we are pleased to provide you with a general report of the condition of the property described above. Since we are not professional conservators or restorers, we urge you to consult with a restorer or conservator of your choice who will be better able to provide a detailed, professional report. Prospective buyers should inspect each lot to satisfy themselves as to condition and must understand that any statement made by Sotheby's is merely a subjective, qualified opinion. Prospective buyers should also refer to any Important Notices regarding this sale, which are printed in the Sale Catalogue.

Catalogue Note

Sur Le Balcon depicts Mlle Nadaud, the governess of Vallotton's daughter-in-law Madeleine, standing on a balcony overlooking the rolling hillsides of Le Gruyère, a mountainous region in Switzerland where the Vallotton family holidayed in the summer of 1905. The work is a typical example of Vallotton's paysages composés, landscapes that were recreated from memory, and is probably based on a photograph discovered in the painter's archives. The technical precision and uncanny stillness of the work is symptomatic of the realistic style that entered Vallotton's work around 1900, a product of a distinctive artistic vision that was influenced by the Cloissonist ideas of an earlier generation of painters such as Anquetin, Gauguin and Bernard. As Vallotton commented in his Journal of 1916, 'I dream of painting landscape free from any literal respect for nature. I would like to be able to recreate landscapes only with the help of the emotions they have provoked in me ...' (quoted in Sasha M. Newman, Felix Vallotton, New York, 1991, p. 181).

The use of an exaggerated diagonal in the present composition is typical of Vallotton's work, and parodies the traditional techniques of spatial illusionism (fig. 1). The blend of ironic humour and dissonant realism that underpins Vallotton's mature style was based on an intensive study of Ingres and elements of hyperrealism. Beneath the detailed objectivity of the work lies a more abstract arrangement of colours and planes that have a strongly modernist feel, a paradoxical element that was noted by Guillaume Appollinaire in 1912: '[Vallotton] pretends to draw his inspiration from Ingres, while, in fact, he imitates one of the most astonishing modern painters... the Douanier Rousseau' (Ibid., p. 118). This work illustrates the somewhat perverse modernism of Vallotton's late landscapes that creates an impression of stillness and dislocation whilst capturing the provocative tension between the familiar and the strange, and is symptomatic of the distinctive vision of a truly original artistic talent.

This work is sold in cooperation with the heirs of Heinrich Morgenstern.

Fig. 1, Felix Vallotton, Le Pont Neuf, oil on board, 1901, Kunstmuseum Winterthur, Switzerland